Zillow, the website that values home properties according to local area sales, just released a report on how to add value before selling your home. Their research team looked at the 100 most common terms found in home listings from the last couple of years to identify the trends of what people are looking for in a new home. They looked deeper to find which of these wish list items return the most money for the investment.
If you’re thinking granite countertops, wood floors or a new outdoor deck top the list, you might be surprised to read that none of those three are mentioned. In fact, most of the top six home improvements driving profitable sales today are unexpected. And some don’t cost a ton of money to add.
1. A wine refrigerator
Even a small under-the-counter wine fridge could add thousands of dollars to your home’s sale price. Image: Harvey Jones
Sellers who had a wine fridge in their home listing sold their home for 22 percent more than similar listings. The trend was especially big on the west coast, with Los Angeles at the top of the list.
The numbers: You can add a wine refrigerator to your home for as little as $150. Many styles can be freestanding and just need to be plugged in. For a seamless look, replace a kitchen cabinet with a wine fridge. Considering that you may get tens of thousands of dollars back on a small investment, this upgrade is one you shouldn’t skip.
Having a glass-enclosed steam shower is like adding a wellness spa to your home. And buyers are on the hunt for one, especially in colder places like Chicago. Of all six upgrades on this list, steam showers are the item that offers the biggest sales price increase. Homes advertising steam showers sold for 29 percent more than listings that didn’t mention one.
The numbers: The cost to install typically includes upgrading to a glass shower enclosure, updating the tile, adding a steam generating system or an exhaust fan and plumbing. According to Zillow, the cost can range from $2,500 to $10,000, depending on whether you’re starting from scratch or updating an existing shower.
3. A pizza oven
This garden oasis features an outdoor fireplace and a wood-burning pizza oven. Image: Paradise Restored
Notice a trend here? Looks like buyers who are willing to spend more on a home are big on food and wellness. Pizza ovens are usually an outdoor feature and are much easier and less expensive to install outside, although you can add a pizza oven indoors, too.
The numbers: Home sellers who had a pizza oven received 26 percent more for their house than those who skipped the simple upgrade. You don’t need a lot of space to add a pizza oven in your backyard or terrace, which makes it a great way to add value before selling your home. A pre-made pizza oven can be picked up at a home improvement store for as little as $350.
4. Professional kitchen appliances
A professional chef’s kitchen features everything a serious cook needs to create gourmet meals. Elements include a multi-burner gas stove, large refrigerator, one or two ovens, heavy-duty dishwasher and industrial exhaust system. Image: Boston Magazine
The search term of “professional appliances” rates high with buyers. A pro kitchen is more than just stainless steel appliances; appliances are often commercial grade, designed for those who are passionate about cooking.
The numbers: Homes with professional appliances earned a 29 percent higher sale price over similar listings that didn’t mention them. Some brands, like “Sub-Zero fridge,” earned sellers an impressive 38 percent increase. Professional appliances start at about $1,200 for dishwashers and $5,000+ for top-of-the-line gas ranges and refrigerators.
5. Heated floors
Underneath the stone of this beautiful bedroom with a view, radiant floor heating pipes move hot water throughout the flooring to heat the floors and the entire room. Image: McClellan Architects
Under-floor heating is a luxurious amenity to have. Imagine waking up on a chilly morning and stepping barefoot onto warm floors. Well, home buyers are looking for this upgrade in their next home, with buyers paying 24 percent more over the home’s expected value for it.
The numbers: Installing heated floors requires construction. The system must go underneath the flooring, requiring owners to rip out the existing floor and replace it. According to Zillow, homeowners should expect “to pay between $5 and $10 per square foot” – not including the flooring – to install a system.
6. Solar panels
Solar panels are a big investment initially but pay off over time in electric bill savings. Image: Zero Energy Design
This eco-friendly upgrade is profitable, especially in the lowest-priced, entry-level home tier. Home listings advertising “solar panels” profited an average of 21 percent above the expected home’s value. When looking specifically at the lowest priced, entry-level homes, sellers pocketed a whopping 40 percent more if solar panels were included.
The numbers: Solar panels are priced according to the “per watt of energy” they generate. Zillow reports that “the average US home with solar power has a 6 kW system, paying between $2.71 and $3.57 per watt.” That adds up to somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 for a solar panel system, after federal tax credits.
How to add value before selling your home
When considering how to add value before selling your home, think about what makes the most sense in your region. A steam shower or underfloor heating may be more popular in colder climates. Solar panels or an outdoor pizza oven are best in areas with more sunny days.
Start with the easier, more affordable projects that add a gourmet effect to your kitchen and a spa feel to your bathroom and watch your home rise above the competition.